2016 Hall of Fame Inductee-
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Vintage Airplane magazine
The Vintage Aircraft Association board of directors is honored to announce its Hall of Fame inductee for 2016 is one of the VAA’s most involved and dedicated members of the sport aviation movement, Mr. Phil Coulson of Lawton, Michigan. Phil Coulson is a gentleman who, after first becoming acquainted with sport flying, quickly became immersed in the thrill and thorough enjoyment of sport aviation, and particularly with its highly congenial and involved people. An entirely new world had opened for Phil and his equally involved wife, Ruthie. Phil’s first airplane ride was fairly early in life as a 16-year-old in a World War II surplus Fairchild PT-23 in 1949. It was enjoyable, but it was not necessarily an impact experience. Phil enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and spent four years in the service and with military airplanes. Phil’s Air Force experience whetted his appetite for aviation and, on return to his native Michigan, learned to fly in a prewar Piper J-5 Cruiser; he was now in his late 20s. His learning to fly was not only a most enjoyable revelation, but also a passion that has continued the rest of his life. Phil had discovered a major avocational interest in small airplanes in general and in the sport aviation movement in particular, and he began attending the early EAA conventions at Rockford in 1962, which was the year he learned to fly. Phil soon began to volunteer with EAA at Rockford and then Oshkosh, where he became an adviser in the Antique/Classic Division in 1985, which was followed by his being elected to the Antique/Classic board of directors in 1987. During this time Phil had also become closely acquainted with the traditional series of Waco aircraft and soon acquired a Waco UPF-7 open-cockpit biplane. The acquisition of the Waco and close acquaintances with scores of other Waco owners eventually led Phil and his friends to organize the American Waco Club (AWC) in 1993. Phil was named the founding president, a leadership position he continued until his decision to retire in 2013. During Phil’s 20-year AWC presidential period, he also edited and published the Waco World News, the official publication of the AWC. Phil and wife Ruthie have owned, in addition to the UPF-7, a G35 Bonanza, a Cessna 195, a Waco RNF, a Waco 10, and a rare Waco UBA. Phil’s many responsibilities as a nearly 30-year active Vintage Aircraft Association director have included chairing the annual Vintage Parade of Flight each year during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and serving as a long-term senior judge in the Antique category during the convention. Phil’s judging expertise became so widely known and respected that for the past 10 years he has additionally served as judge for the prestigious National Aviation Heritage International events at Dayton, Ohio, and Reno, Nevada, each year. Phil’s business career has been that of a professional surveyor for land and engineering projects in and near his native Lawton. Phil and Ruthie retired from their respective business careers in 2013. Phil elected to take emeritus status with the VAA board in the fall of 2015 after nearly 30 years of active, involved, and dedicated service to EAA and the VAA. The Coulsons have literally dedicated their avocational lives to the field of sport aviation, most specifically to EAA, VAA, and the American Waco Club. It is a special pleasure to announce Phil Coulson’s selection for induction into the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame in November 2016 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Written by Charles W. Harris, VAA Director Emeritus, VAA Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chairman